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Improve your sleep: 4 tricks

Dark therapy is free and suitable for everyone

Nowadays there are treatments for just about everything. What has happened with us human beings? Well, indeed just about everything. This is why we have sandpit therapy for people who cannot communicate, re-birthing therapy to process trauma, and snake massage therapy for relaxation and pain relief. Many of these treatments sit on the "alternative" shelf, even if they sometimes have a proven effectiveness. Scototherapie, or Dark Therapy, for instance, is not a strange form of therapy but actually a quite logical and proven system of sleep improvement.

Enter Sandman

Dark therapy is a form of chronotherapy. It is a general method for the promotion of sleep. Because sleep is an essential part of good health, dark therapy is recommended to everyone, but specifically if your sleep is impaired. It's free, very effective and you can begin implementing it tonight and improve your sleep and overall vitality.

Production of melatonin

Dark therapy aims to increase melatonin production. It works as follows: when the sun sets and it turns dark, a chain of molecular actions in the body from your eyes to the pineal gland stimulates the production of melatonin. At the moment that melatonin is released into the brain and binds to neurons, the electrical rhythm changes and decreases your body temperature. This summons the brains and body toward sleep.

Light pollution

Because today we rarely experience complete darkness, melatonin production is often affected. The urban outdoors and indoors are illuminated 24/7 by artificial sources such as street lighting, computer screens and telephones. By the bright blue light from these devices, the body does not know that the evening has arrived and it is not creating melatonin. Blue light is the main factor responsible for breaking down and inhibiting melatonin.

When sit behind your computer for 10, 11 or 12 hours with your phone beside you, you may recognize the feeling that you are not tired enough to go to bed. But the following morning you wake up demolished.

Melatonin supplementation is not sufficient

To disrupt melatonin production, a flash of light of blue light less than one second in duration in the eyes is already sufficient. Without the removal of artificial blue light, the ingestion of a melatonin supplement alone is therefore rarely effective.

Dark Therapy aims to reduce the amount of blue-light sources as you get closer to bedtime. This will get your natural melatonin production going and prevents formed melatonin to be eliminated. Here are various gradations and you can explore them at your discretion.

How it works

- Install the free program F.lux on your computer to filter out blue light after sundown.
- Turn off all bright lights and use candles, Himalayan salt lamps or special amber lights instead.
- After sunset use glasses that filter blue light.
- Turn off your computer, TV and phone earlier in the evening.

The darker, the better. Check all bedroom light sources and eliminate as many as possible. To optimally stimulate your normal biorhythms, you can use light therapy in the morning in addition to the dark therapy. This is also quite simple and free. Immediately after getting out of bed, preferably during sunrise, look up to the morning sky for a few minutes. Your body now knows that the day has begun, allowing all processes to run in daytime-mode again. Incidentally, this does not work well if you look at the sky through a glass window or glasses.

Combine with nutritional supplements

You can combine dark therapy with nutritional supplements, medicins or other therapeutic modalities for an additional effect. Over time you may be able to taper off some or all. In case you take prescription medication, always consult with your doctor.

Commonly used supplements are L-tryptophan and 5-HTP, both immediate precursors of serotonin and, thus, of melatonin. SAMe is a substance, and supplement, needed for the conversion of serotonin into melatonin.

In times of stress, herbal preparations may help you relax your mind and body very effectively. Dream Release and Tension Release (MegaFood) and L-Theanine (Doctor's Best) are our personal favorites.

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